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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Thirty pieces of nickel-brass alloy

Sometimes the Guardian justifies its name. This is worth knowing about:

Police tried to spy on Cambridge students, secret footage shows
Officer is filmed attempting to persuade activist in his 20s to become informant targeting ‘student-union type stuff’

Of this sort of thing is not new. A friend of mine was asked to spy on far-left groups back in the ’70s. Perhaps it is inevitable; among the innumerable sects that split and reformed and split again to become the RCPBML and CPGB(ML) we all know and love this week, there were a few that really did need spying on, as do some of the Muslims who have replaced them. But “student-union type stuff”? Yup, MI5 really needs a deep cover mole in the the SUTS. And were they always such cheapskates?

The officer also suggested the man he hoped to recruit would be paid expenses or other sums. “You might go to a UK Uncut or Unite Against Fascism meeting one evening, you might get say £30 just for your time and effort for doing that. That’s the sort of thing you are looking at.”

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10 comments to Thirty pieces of nickel-brass alloy

  • Richard Thomas

    Having played around the edges of the Student Union during my time, it all seemed like very dull stuff. Clearly an indication of an advancing police state is a fascination with the mundane.

  • Incunabulum

    Hmm, I can see making a pretty decent side-income, “Tailor of Panama” style.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    If they made it £500 instead of £30, I’d be all for it. Bloody cheapskates.

    Still I’m well known for my raving anarchist views, so I doubt I’d be accepted by anyone worth spying on at my university….

  • Clovis Sangrail

    It’s the cuts, dammit, the cuts.

  • M. Thompson

    On this side of the Pond, the Student Government types tend to be blowhards who have no idea about the real world.

    Although they did tell the campus feminist group they were expected to cover part of the expenses for a trip.

  • The police are, as usual, late. But 80 years late must be some kind of record.

  • Harryr

    This info is probably useful for police assessments of upcoming demos and the players involved. But my impression is this is a training/evaluation drill. They want to see how this guy goes in the field. If he can produce useful product, if so his pay will improve. When they are sure of him he might be given some basic trade craft training, and depending on his ability they would probably move him onto a more significant target.
    Back in my younger years I was a left anarchist, in the early 80s I was living in an anarchist squat in Brixton. I remember this tough looking guy staying for a few days said he was a deserter from the French Foreign Legion. All the others thought he was wonderful. I knew at the time this was bullshit. I figured him for MI5 or special branch. He realised that I was on to him and gave me a warning not tip off the others. By this time I had come to the conclusion they were a bunch of noddies so I said nothing. Thinking back he could have been a police informer with a bit of training and experience or he could of been undercover SAS.

  • I know a small meeting of committed anarchists and similar radicals that could use a little extra income, so to borrow from Sherlock: Think! If he gets in touch say yes and we’ll split it.

  • SC

    This seems almost suspiciously incompetent. Even the police would realize that this guy is likely to go straight back to the others and tell them. Perhaps that was the point — to sew suspicion and confusion in their ranks.

    BTW he wasn’t being asked to spy on student union meetings,which is dull and irrelevant stuff, but protests run by hard-left activists.